Blues chat with Jim Thomas

Blues chat with Jim Thomas

Bring your Blues and NHL questions and comments, and talk to Post-Dispatch hockey writer Jim Thomas in a live chat starting at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

    What do you think about Doug Armstrong's aggressiveness this past week in signing players to extensions?
    Armstrong isn't afraid to think out of the box, and as I mentioned earlier, can be unpredictable. Without the coronavirus "pause," I'm sure these contracts don't get done. So why not get them done during the "pause," when there's no distractions involving players playing games. He's got a big chunk of his offseason done, which is a good thing, I think, because who knows how chaotic things might be when the offseason does get here.

    Hello. Several chats back I proposed lockdown at Lake Placid for teams to play SC games. I understood your response about revenues with fans and no interest in this proposal. Now the league proposing games in ND and Saskatchewan? I still like my proposal way better, plus still have tie-in for 40th anniversary of Olympics. What is your best guess on what league will do? And any thoughts on what players response will be when proposal is presented? Do players have a say? Could they refuse to report?
  • I don't remember your specific question. Perhaps it happened during a Tom Timmermann chat. If it didn't I apologize for my lack of memory. (I plead old age!) In any event, at this moment it appears more and more like you are right. If the NHL does return this season, it looks like it will be at neutral sites in front of no fans. I still don't know how playing in front of empty stands helps the revenue picture. Perhaps extra TV ratings, or any TV ratings help the revenue picture.
    What is the setup like at Lake Placid? The quality of the venue, locker rooms, weight rooms, etc.? Are there  hotels nearby? Is it easy to get in and out, transportation-wise?
    I've only talked to a few Blues players about this, and they are all in favor of playing, if they can be shown that the proper precautions are being taken for their health and safety. Keep in mind, the Blues are highly motivated here _ they want to win another Cup. And of course, the NHL Players Association would have to sign off on any return.
    If the NHL season resumes, but the AHL season does not resume, wouldn't it make sense to expand the NHL rosters in case off injuries? If this is the case, which members of the Rampage do you think the Blues would call up?
  • I would say Mikkola, Kostin, Husso, and in a non-AHL category, Perunovich. To. me that would be the top tier. Other possibilities: Walman, Walker, Poganski, Nolan. And maybe Brouwer comes back (Again!)
    ESPN just posted NHL will NOT use neutral sites. 19-20 season regular arenas.
    Yeah, I saw that Edmonton, Minnesota and Carolina are possibilities. But they're still neutral sites if you're not a team from one of those cities. And again, I think they're still neutral sites if there are no fans in the stands. Don't you think?
    Per ESPN, the league is not considering neutral sites anymore:

    "Instead, the league is looking at regional NHL arenas, aligned by division, where teams could potentially finish their seasons. Sources told ESPN that the current favorites are the home rinks for the Carolina Hurricanes (Metropolitan Division), Edmonton Oilers (Pacific Division) and Minnesota Wild (Central Division). A front-runner from the Atlantic Division has yet to emerge."

    www.espn.com
    Yeah, I saw that before the chat started. Pls. see previous post.
    Mr. Thomas,
    Do you have any information on Blues prospect Erik Foley? I believe he was concussed at Traverse City in 2018 and has now missed two full seasons. Is he still suffering concussion symptoms?
  • I have no update. I'll try to remember to ask Doug Armstrong next time I talk to him.
    What are your thoughts on the possibility of covering games in a neutral city while being being quarantined?
    Not a problem. I'll bring a mask and practice social distancing.
    I have seen where Gretzky is going to play Ovechkin in a video hockey game. It was going to be televised or streamed. Any talk of some Blues players doing that?
    I believe both Robert Thomas and Colton Parayko are taking part in a gaming tournament. But not against other NHL players. Against "regular" gamers. I believe Thomas has won his first two contests.
    I just want to mention here, if it was a Galaga contest, I'd be a tough out. (Just ask Isaac Bruce.)
    Happy Hockey Hump Day JT. Thank you for the chats....they are keeping us sane.

    When do you think the next "Where are They Now" article will be published Its fun to be reminded of guys from yesterday who wore the blue note. Last week I shared with Tom some Blues players I would like to see what they are up to......

    Gene Carr - first round pick from the 70's that went from hot shot to "afraid not"
    Phil Roberto - career third liner who could lay guys out with an elbow to the jaw. Could score too.
    Mike Crombeen - scored the game winner in double overtime in 1981. Didn't do much else.
    Harold Snepts - tough guy who patrolled the blue line.
    Connie Madigan - 35 year old rookie, played one year in the 70's.

    The hockey shutdown could last a while, time to start churning these out.

    I hope you and yours are doing well.

    Let's Go Blues!
    I'm glad you like them. Us puckheads _ and yeah, I consider myself a puckhead now _ stole the idea from our Cardinal writers, the esteemed Rick Hummel in particular. We just couldn't squeeze one in this week. But the estimable Tom Timmermann is working on one next week, when I will be on furlough.
    Mr. Thomas,

    Great article on Scandella. It seems like he was a perfect fit for the Blues on the ice and off. Do players tend to fit in well pretty often with their new teams? After all, hockey players must have something in common with each other. Do you know of any examples where a player really was not a good personality fit on a new team?
    Thx. I can't think of any examples of free agents or trade pickups that didn't fit in well with the Blues in my brief tenure. And even though it's safe to say that maybe Faulk hasn't quite met expectations this season with the Blues, he's still been a plus player in my opinion.
    I would assume that we shouldn't expect any more contract news for a while? I suspect the obvious contracts are done (MacEachern, Blais and Scandella), others well be gone (Bouwmeester, De La Rose and Brouwer) and the remaining two questions (Dunn and Pietrangelo) need more definition of the cap and any cap compliance rules before getting done. Sure Dunn could probably be done now and fit under a cap that is the same (or about) for next year, but I think the preference would be to get a longer deal done if possible. For Petro they need to know the cap (for how much space to clear) and if there will be compliance buyouts allowed that don't count against the cap before swinging any trades. Does that sound about right?
  • Well again, you never know with Armstrong. If he hears something he likes on Dunn or Pietrangelo, I would think he'd do a deal. (And worry about the cap later.) Can't see any circumstances where Bouwmeester and Brouwer are back. I can't really say the same yet on de la Rose.
    Do you know how college hockey compares to junior hockey, minor league hockey, and European leagues?
    Good question. One better suited for a veteran scout. I would think. But I do know that you're playing about half the number of games in college as your are in the NHL, and the game is less physical. I don't think the defense and two-way play is very strong in junior hockey _ again, this is a generalization. Obviously, you've got the wider rinks overseas. Would the KHL be ranked second and the AHL third in terms of quality of play behind the NHL?
    Jim --- Wanted to add I really enjoyed the stories on Chuck Lefly and Garry Unger. The comments Unger made about the night Bob Gassoff died were pretty powerful. It's obvious it had a huge impact on him and I am sure on many others there that night. I had never heard him tell the story about how he told him to stay away from the motorbikes. It would be a lot of work, but if the P-D could assign someone to talk to the people who were there for that party and the impact it had on them, I would read it in a second. Keep up the great work.
    Thanks. What you're proposing would be tough to pull off. And I would think some people wouldn't want to talk. It would take a lot of time to work on, and with our current manpower situation, not sure we could spare the body or bodies to work on it. But it would be a fascinating story, for sure.
    I know it's not a popular opinion, but I like having Faulk on the team. I certainly would have liked to see him progress a bit quicker (as Scandella seemed to), but I believe he is a solid player to have. Some of the pipeline talent notwithstanding, I think a guy like Faulk is an important mature presence to have. However, it was off watching him on the reunion meeting watching his phone while everyone else seemed to be enjoying the proceedings.
    As for the reunion meeting, are you talking about that team videoconference? I wasn't watching him that closely; I commend your powers of observation.
    As for his play, I regard him as an asset. If he had scored a couple, three more goals prior to the coronavirus "pause" we wouldn't be having this conversation.
    Ughh. Furlough. Times are tough. Hopefully, it is just for one week?
    Yeah, every writer at the Post-Dispatch has two weeks of unpaid furlough this quarter. I have my second week scheduled for the third week of may. Our executives are taking pay cuts. Naturally, none of us are thrilled about it _ who would be? But there's a lot of people who have it a lot tougher.
    Tom shared with us last week he really needs a hair cut.

    Where would you rate yourself, from 1 being "I cut my own hair and am good" to "I'm ready for a man bun"?
    Tommy T was in need of a cut BEFORE the NHL shutdown so he looked shaggy back then. I get a cut about once every 6 weeks, and I was only about halfway through that cycle when the "pause" started. My plan, subject to change of course, is no haircut until shelter-in-place ends. But I don't have to worry about a man bun. As I mentioned in my intro comments, I have a slowly expanding gray bush going. It's growing out as much as it's growing down.
    Per my previous comment, your thoughts on #17.
    Sorry,.I'll get to your question. My goal is to answer every question during a chat. Some take longer to answer than others. Some involve looking up something, or even texting someone for help. And sometimes I just don't know. But I'll get to it.
    Not sure what this means but Foley isn't on the team roster or on any kind ltir for salary cap according to The Hockey Writers website
    Foley remains listed on the CapFriendly.com Blues roster under season-opening injured reserve list.
    Hi Jim. Using NHL.TV to feed my hockey addiction. I'm watching the post-Binnington Blues games (win or lose) from last year. I guess whether Pietrangelo stays or goes depends on him now? Lots of teams have money to throw at him (although less now because of the lower cap) so it comes down to how badly he wants to remain in STL, and the crunched cap means less chance of the Blues competing on the dollar front.
    Yeah, I've said from the start that Pietrangelo's future in St. Louis probably depends most on his motivation. If he's more interested in getting the best deal possible in terms of dollars, he probably goes elsewhere. If he's more interested in pursuing another Cup with the Blues and being a legacy player here, he stays in St. Louis.
    And you're right on this: Although the lower salary cap makes it tougher for all teams to fill needs and pursue players, there are still plenty of teams that will have sufficient cap space to pursue Pietrangelo. 
    Jim, hope you are doing well. I like the Scandella signing because he looks to be the absolute perfect replacement for Bouwmeester if he retires, but let me ask you the question most Blues fans are thinking: In your opinion, how does this impact the chances of keeping Petro? Tom was hit with this question a lot last week and was good but want your thoughts.
  • Well, it's $3.275 million of cap space taken out of the pie for next season, so it doesn't help. Ostensibly, he's a replacement for Bouwmeester and not Pietrangelo, but I was surprised by the signing nonetheless. It comes down to, would you rather have a Blues team with Allen and Steen (or some other combination), or a Blues team without Pietrangelo? If I'm reading this right, Scandella's signing pretty much assured that you're going to have to remove at least two players from the current roster to retain Pietrangelo.
    My two cents, for what it's worth: Faulk has not been abjectly terrible, but I think he has not been what the Blues thought they were getting- an All-Star defenseman and PP quarterback. It made a lot of sense to trade for him and really go for it this year. The Blues were legitimate contenders to repeat. Joel Edmundson and the team could not agree on what his paycheck should look like two years in a row. In my opinion, the seven-year, high dollar extension given out before he even played a game for the Blues was ill advised. He promptly had the lowest productivity of any year in his career. If Petro leaves, I don’t think Faulk is a good replacement. If Petro stays, Faulk doesn’t have a clearly defined role (and might not anyway). A $6.5 million dollar cap hit is a lot of money for a second pairing d-man who can’t stick on the PP. I harp on him probably more than he deserves, but the Blues need a lot more from him if he’s here long term.
    I don't think the Blues are ready to give up on him based on this year.
    Mr. Thomas. Since they cannot keep everyone, as much as it hurts to say it, maybe letting the Captain go and moving on to give Parayko the reins is best for the future of the team. Parayko is a unique, one of a kind talent, and if the choice for the future is between him and Pietrangelo, it has to be Colton. The Blues probably have the best defense in the NHL. Signing Scandella solidifies it. Resigning Dunn would give it more under contract talent into the future. Mikola deserves a shot. I don’t know what the locker room dynamics are that would be impacted by the loss of Pietrangelo, but Parayko might be the next Larry Robinson and he deserves the opportunity and the responsibility. Alex Pietranglo is a great player and he should seek all the money he can get. He just may have to get it in Toronto.
    As much as it would hurt to lose a player like Pietrangelo, I do think the Blues would have a highly-representative D-corps. I think good enough to be a contender:
    Scandella-Parayko
    Dunn-Faulk
    Gunnarsson-Bortuzzo
    Mikkola as the seventh?
    Everyone's willingness to trade Jaden Schwartz stuns me. He makes the team go, with consistently high energy, speed, intelligence, effort, checking and passing ON EVERY SHIFT, he just makes everyone better--plus, look how hot he got in the playoffs last year. We may have lost in Series One or Two without his dozen goals, including hat tricks and game winners. In Game 7 vs Boston alone, who set up Petro's backbreaker with a hustle play and pass off the boards to himself, then hitting Petro coming behind? On Schenn's goal #3, who broke loose from the middle and passed wisely down the ice putting #91 in position to make the pass to $10? I believe #17 should be untouchable.
    I've seen a couple of comments about dumping Schwartz, but I don't sense there's a tidal wave of sentiment in that direction. Sure he's streaky. But he has speed, tenacity, will go to the front of net and do dirty work in front of the net. He's averaged 21.5 goals in his six full seasons with the Blues and is only 27. After the 2020-21 season, the Blues are in much better cap shape. They don't win the Stanley Cup without his work in the first three playoff series last year.
    I saw an article from the one of the Colorado papers saying Petro or Hall. It would hurt if he went to Colorado.
    Colorado does have sufficient cap space.
    I believe Petro will be wearing a Maple Leaf jersey next season (whenever that is)...and that's not a bad thing from the Blues perspective. We have able D-Men who can be promoted from the AHL, and financially it makes sense so Army can afford to sign other future UFA's. Petro will be in the Eastern Conference which is good, only see him twice in the regular season, and we will never see him in the finals (Toronto is kidding themselves if they think one guy can solve their defensive issues).

    What say you?
    Not sure if Toronto has the cap room to pull it off. I think they might have to make some roster adjustments to do so. They have $76.9 million committed to next season's cap according to CapFriendly which is the third-highest total in the league behind Arizona's $79.9 million and the Blues' $79.4 million. They also have 10 players with contracts scheduled to expire after this season as either unrestricted or restricted free agents _ although none of the 10 are star players.
    But I'm sure it would be less painful for Blues fans having him in the Eastern Conference.
    Jim, can you walk us through a typical game day for you as far as pregame, postgame, print deadlines, web deadlines, how different time zones play a role, catching flights on road trips, etc.
    Well, I quickly learned that the routine in the NHL is there's no routine, especially in comparison to my football days. At home there are variables to the schedule depending on what colleague TomT does. Some days, he might be doing the game story; some days, he may be doing the notebook/blog; sometimes he's doing both sometimes he's doing neither.
    As for road games, there's only one of us there during the regular season and it's easily the busiest day. Here's what it's like. Let's assume it's in the Central time zone.
    The visiting team always skates second in the morning skate _ and the Blues rarely totally scratch the morning skate.
    So I usually get to the rink around 10:30 a.m. If possible, I'll listen to the opposing coach, or even go in the visiting locker room. (Sometimes there's stories there that we think might be of interest to local readers.)
    By 11 a.m., I like to be in the stands (close to the ice) to watch the Blues come out and take a roll call. Once the morning skate starts at 11;30 a.m. take note of the line rushes, after the skate, interview players and Berube.
    Write a blog for the internet. I like to go in-depth on these and cover a fair amount of ground. So it takes me a little time to get these out _ maybe 900 words. Grab some lunch while writing. Usually finish this by maybe 1:30- 2 p.m.) Take a little power nap if time permits. Then start on the newspaper notebook which appears the next day (but also on line by about midnight of the game-day.)
    I like to get to the rink early for the game, usually about 2 1/2 hours before puck drop. I finish the notebook and file it before puck drop. I'll send a running game story right as the game ends, go down to the locker room for post-game interviews with players and Berube. Send a writethru on the game story adding stuff from the locker room, take off on the team charter. Sometimes I touch up that game story for online and file that once the plane lands. So we could be talking about between 2,500 to 3,500 words on these days.
    OK, we've run through the list of questions. If you've got something to ask, now's your time.
    OK, that's it for today. Appreciate the questions. See you all in two weeks.
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